Women in a women's job: the gendered experience of nurses

Authors: Porter, S.

Journal: Sociology of Health & Illness

Volume: 14

Issue: 4

Pages: 510-527

eISSN: 1467-9566

ISSN: 0141-9889

DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.ep10493131


The aim of this paper is to examine how the structural influence of gender affects nurses in their working lives. Gender segregation exists both within and between the occupations of medicine and nursing. It is largely founded on the social construction of a skills/caring dichotomy. An analysis of how the gender of nurses and doctors affects their interactions with co‐workers reveals that the increasing proportion of female doctors has attenuated power differences between the two occupations. Examination of nurses' attitudes to gender demonstrates that they are very aware of the problem, despite a tendency to accept credentialist justifications of inequality. As a result of this they are becoming more assertive. The issue of sexual stereotyping is addressed and it is noted that popular mythology about sexual relations between doctor and nurses is highly misleading. Privatised aspirations are having a decreasing influence over nurses' working lives. In conclusion, while gender inequality is losing some of its power in nurse‐doctor relationships, it is becoming an increasingly significant factor in the relationship between male nurse managers and female workers. Copyright © 1992, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

Source: Scopus